tv NBC Nightly News NBC May 27, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PDT
three students from oakland and one from santa cruz today at the white house. congrats to them. >> good stuff. on our broadcast tonight, our nbc news exclusive the "first look" at our conversation with edward snowden in moscow, the american fugitive, the most wanted man in the world, talks about the job he actually did for so many years. exit strategy. for the first time, president obama lays out the plan to end america's longest war. tonight, how and when u.s. troops will finally leave afghanistan. red flags from the gunman who carried out the massacre in california. as new details emerge about his troubled history, the question becomes what could have been done to stop him? and food fight. michele obama, as we rarely heard her before, returning to her campaign by accusing republicans in congress of playing politics with children's health. "nightly news" begins now.
>> from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian williams. good evening. in a little over 24 hours we'll hear from edward snowden, the 30-year-old american who is responsible for the most staggering theft of american intelligence secrets in the modern era. he is wanted on espionage charges. he continues to live in exile in russia. a number of people in high positions in the government and the intelligence community are anxious to hear what he says, understandably, when we air our conversation with him tomorrow evening in primetime. we mitt with him midweek last week in moscow. tonight, a portion of that conversation with this man who introduces himself as ed. he touches on something he's never spoken of before on camera about what he did for the u.s. government and how he describes his job, his training, his
career right up until he put an end to it. >> were you trained as a spy? it seems to me spies probably look a lot more like ed snowden and a lot less like james bond these days. >> it's no secret the u.s. tends to get more and better intelligence out of computers nowadays than they do out of people. i was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word in that i lived and worked undercover overseas, pretending to work in a job that i'm not, and even being assigned a name that was not mine. but i am a technical specialist. i am a technical expert. i don't work with people. i don't recruit agents. what i do is i put systems to work for the united states. and i've done that at all levels from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top. now the government might deny these things, they might frame it in certain ways and say oh,
he's a low level analyst but what they are trying to do is they are trying to use one position that i've had in a career here or there to distract from the totality of my experience which is i've worked for the central intelligence agency undercover overseas. i've worked for the national security agency undercover overseas and i worked for the defense intelligence agency as a lecturer at the joint counter intelligence training academy where i developed sources and methods for keeping our information and people secure in the most hostile and dangerous environments around the world. so, when they say i'm a low level systems administrator, i don't know what i'm talking about, i would say it's somewhat misleading. >> edward snowden, initially called a 29-year-old hacker by president obama, and labeled a system s analyst and private contractor, explaining to us his
actual job and training for all those years went under a different title. our chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell has been going through what we just heard from edward snowden and the claims he makes now about his job history, title and background. she joins us from our d.c. newsroom. and andrea, so it begins. this was the most basic predicate prior to getting in our conversation with him that lasted several hours. >> reporter: indeed. no matter what people think of edward snowden he had an enormous impact on u.s. intelligence. his influence far greater than his official resume. who is edward snowden? here's how the administration and congressional critics described him when he first exposed the secret surveillance program. >> no, i'm not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker. >> reporter: and this from the leaders of the house intelligence committee. >> i think he was lying. >> he's a legend in his own mind. >> he clearly overinflated his position. he overinflated his access.
he's even overinflated what the actual technology of the programs would allow one to do. >> reporter: what do the records show? from our reporting the defense intelligence agency said snowden was a guest speaker at three of their conferences on cyber security including one in japan focusing on the chinese cyber threat. critics and supporters acknowledge snowden is whip smart, able to get in the system, know what he was taking, cover his tracks, plot his escape. micah is an nbc analyst and serves on an nsa panel. >> the amount of information that snowden was able to take from the nsa is truly mind-boggling and it shows a real weakness on nsa's part of protecting that information. >> do they know to this day how much he took? >> the government is working to this day to understand exactly what edward snowden got. >> reporter: what is also undisputed his impact has been huge. >> i'm speaking of course the most massive and damaging theft
of intelligence information in our history by edward snowden. >> reporter: it started right away, two days after snowden's first leak, the president in his first summit with china's president was on defense over cyber war. instead of demanding china stop attacking america's computers, officials say xi told him, you were the aggressor. also damaging documents snowden supplied to journalists revealing the u.s. spied on the u.s. most important allies. germany's angela merkel. and on brazil's president, who called off a state visit to washington. to say nothing of handing vladamir putin a huge propaganda victory. snowden's disclosures hurt the president's relation with key allies but hurt his credibility with a key part of his political base. younger people who are among the president's critical of the surveillance policies. brian? >> andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom tonight. thanks. we'll hear more from edward snowden tomorrow evening starting with this broadcast and
then, of course, our hour long primetime special it airs tomorrow night at 10:00, 9:00 central on this nbc station. tonight after well over a decade of war, two ground wars launched in the name of 9/11, president obama is laying out details about the plan to leave afghanistan. how and when the remaining american troops will finally come home. our political director and chief white house director chuck todd is with us as the heavens have opened in washington. chuck, good evening. >> reporter: good evening, brian. it was perhaps the biggest campaign promise president obama made to bring an to end the wars in iraq and afghanistan before end of his presidency. with the president's announcement today some are wondering if we're ending the war in afghanistan or beginning a new phase. it's america's longest war, over 12 years. started in direct response to 9/11. >> the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.
>> reporter: it's a war that has taken its toll of blood and treasure. more than 2300 americans killed since november 2001. more than 19,000 wounded in action. it's produced ten medal of honor recipients. nearly three quarters of a trillion dollars in military spending and aid. and at its peak over 100,000 american troops deployed. a war the president inherited and pledged to end. >> america's combat mission will be over by the end of this year. >> and after a surprise visit to troops on sunday, the president announced this today. >> starting next year afghans will be fully responsible for securing their country. american personnel will be in an advisory role. >> reporter: there will be a significant u.s. military presence for the next two years. the president's plan, draw down all combat forces take troop level from 32,000 now to just under 10,000 troops in 2015. their primary mission? train afghan security forces, perform counterterrorism
operations against al qaeda. and by the end of 2016 the plan calls for about 1,000 troops. but the agreement the u.s. expects to sign with afghanistan will give the next president the option to send in more troops. and without asking congress or the afghans. >> we have to recognize afghanistan will not be a perfect place and it is not america's responsibility to make it one. the future of afghanistan must be decided by afghans. >> reporter: today's announcement comes a day before the president will deliver a wide ranging speech at west point for the commencement. the president will lay out his vision for american foreign policy and our role in the world after the war, ending the wars in afghanistan. will allow us to focus on other trouble spots around the world and that includes how to deal with the ongoing civil war in syria a problem the administration fear may only be solved by some sort of future use of the military. so the strain on our military is
not going away. >> chuck todd let's get you inside with that lightning, perhaps inside that house that's behind you there. chuck from the north lawn of the white house. in southern california tonight, thousands of people are gathering to remember the six lives lost when a young gunman went on a rampage through the streets of a college town, in fact among the more beautiful college environments in our country. it's a day of mourning there as we learn more tonight about the dark and troubled history of the gunman. our report from nbc's mike taibbi. >> reporter: they turned to the 17,000 seat stadium to join together in mourning and reflection. ♪ an entire college community silenced, except for here. >> the only solution is love and that love comes from community. >> reporter: but there are haunting questions about the red flags that were missed, about an individual as clearly and dangerously troubled as elliott rodger. the grieving father of one said there has to be some answers and
now. >> too many people have died and it should be not one more. >> not one more! >> reporter: the family spokesman said he had been in therapy since childhood, had a form of autism and spurned his prescribed medications and his written and video blogs didn't name any specific targets but were full of anger and self-loathing. >> i've experienced nothing but loneliness and misery. my problem is girls. >> reporter: under law, none of that would have barred him from buying and owning the three guns in his arsenal. on april 30th police cleared him after checking on his welfare at the request of his concerned parents. some experts say they could have done more. >> when they want to check up on somebody law enforcement needs to do more than visit someone's house. they need to visit someone's public persona as represented online. >> reporter: on campus now the focus is on solidarity. and recovery. graduate student melissa.
>> i think people to heal psychologically need to find a place of stability in the midst of chaos. >> reporter: this history professor said they will find it here to one degree or another. >> i expect that's going to be something that they carry for the rest of their lives in some kind of form, but they also are going to go on to productive and happy lives and we're all going to help each other do that. >> reporter: there are more than 20,000 students, faculty and staff on this campus. even more than that number gathered here to grieve, reflect and remember together. brian? >> terrible time for that campus and families. mike taibbi in california for us tonight. mike, thanks. an incredible scene from nature. a frightening one caught on camera in north dakota. we get to watch a tornado approach as oil field workers in trailers scramble. the tornado got so close we're able to see right up the side of
the funnel, especially the distinct difference between the white clouds at the top and the brown lower portion of the funnel where it has vacuumed up dirt from the earth. the tornado eventually turned away from them, damaging or destroying more than a dozen trailers, critically injuring a 15-year-old girl. doctors say she's expected thankfully to survive. in colorado the ground search has officially been called off for three ranchers who went missing following this massive landslide. it happened in a remote area west of grand junction. slide went on for more than four miles. hundreds of feet deep in spots filled with mud. the aerial search will continue but authorities say the slide remains just too unstable to continue on the ground. we're back with more on this tuesday night from new york right after this.
away at her plan to fight childhood obesity by imposing rules about what schools can serve in the lunchroom. it's a plan that's touched a nerve across the country. we get our report tonight from peter alexander. >> reporter: in school cafeterias what belongs on the menu can be grounds for debate. >> it's important to eat healthy because if you don't you'll get diseases like diabetes and i don't want that. >> sometimes it tastes nasty. >> reporter: first lady michele obama who fought passionately to get healthier foods in the schools, is diving back in. >> we're seeing efforts in congress to roll back these new standards and undo the hard work that all of you, all of us have done on behalf of our kids. >> reporter: it's rare territory for mrs. obama waging a political fight against efforts backed by republicans and pushed by the food industry that would exempt some districts from federal rules requiring more whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables in school lunches.
>> it's unacceptable to me not just as first lady but as a mother. >> reporter: but some critics including school officials say schools can't afford to keep serving what kids won't eat. >> the students aren't accepting the meals that we serve. we'll see waste and participation going down. and across the country that's what we're seeing. >> reporter: a new documentary is fueling the debate. >> the government is subsidizing the obesity epidemic. >> fed up subsidies from the sugar industry and argues the let's move campaign misses the point. the first lady's nutrition policy adviser disputes that. >> i think we got to work together, particularly with companies that are trying to do the best by american families and put pressure on the other ones to follow suit. >> reporter: mrs. obama insists what happens now can transform the health of an entire generation. >> i don't want to look back with regret and think we gave up on our kids because we felt like this thing was too hard or too
overseas tonight, pope francis has made history again, not only for his trip just concluded to the middle east, but also for the questions he answered and the topics he took on during a wide ranging news conference that went on for over 40 minutes during the flight home. on married priests the pope said the door is open, though he supports celibacy. on sex abuse he called for zero tolerance and revealed three bishops are under investigation for their roles and will meet with abuse victims. > 43 has something in common with about 700,000 americans each year. he's the recipient of a new knee. he received a partial knee replacement at chicago hospital.
former president is 67, about the age when a lot of original equipment wears out especially in this case knees. after a lot of running and biking over the years. massimo vignelli has died. his work will remain visible in public life for years to come. new yorkers referred to the subway map he designed years ago using it still to get around on a daily basis. he also designed the american airlines logo that survived for 45 years. and that iconic brown bag that bloomingdale's has used since the '70s. a native of milan who made new york his adopted home. he was 83 years old. while we may refer to the memorial day three day weekend as the kick-off of the summer season it was a little different this year on the shores of lake superior in places like duluth. a lot of people posted pictures of ice along the beach, people standing on ice, floating on ice. this weekend was a holiday on ice. someone said on social media,
damn the icebergs, beach time ahead. daytime highs were in the 80s but winter was so bad it's going to take a long while for water temperatures to come around. someone is leaving money all over san francisco and the people of the bay area couldn't be happier about it. all we know is this. he's a guy who says he's made millions in real estate. he wishes to remain anonymous. he puts out clues on social media directing people in the bay area to the money drops which so far have totalled four grand since last thursday. when we come back, leaving the digital age behi you y
our final story here tonight is about a man whose life's work is all about saving a dying art form in our digital age. as our own harry smith found out he's changing a lot of young lives in the process so tonight mr. smith goes back to the place rooted in time. >> reporter: time said einstein is relative. there's no difference between the past, the present, and the future. really? tell that to someone whose watch is broken. crazy as it sounds in this increasingly digital age what
the world needs now is more watchmakers. >> without giving it a second thought i would take ten tomorrow. >> reporter: ten? >> ten. tomorrow. >> reporter: terry is the technical director for turner watches in new york. he and his fellow artisans are ageing and there's few places left that teach this. it requires skill, and smarts and something that might surprise you. >> number one, harry is passion. if you don't have the passion you won't last long. >> reporter: his solution start a watch making class for high school kids right down the hall. >> get your tools out on your benches. >> reporter: few of these students had a clue what they were getting into. some say the class came along just in the nick of time. >> well, it's nice to have, you know, the opportunity to have someone else in your hand and try to figure out what's wrong with them and take it apart and put it back together. by looking at me you wouldn't know i know how to do this. >> reporter: a good watchmaker can make upwards of $50,000 a
year. a job for life you can carry with you anywhere on the planet. >> bringing the watches back to life. >> reporter: edwin was in terry's class. he's now a full time employee. and finishing high school at night. >> it helped me find my way. i love it. i can't get over it. >> reporter: passion for watch making that edwin says kept him out of trouble. >> what do you think would have happened? >> oh, man, i don't know. i probably would be wandering around. >> reporter: the masters take the apprentices under their wings, happy to share decades of wisdom. and what they will learn will become really good watch maker takes time. harry smith, nbc news, queens. great story to end on for this tuesday night after the three day holiday. thank you for being here with us. as we start off a new week. i'm brian williams. we of course hope to see you right back here tomorrow evening.
vista community. >> not one more! >> this video just came in from the memorial with the father of one of the victims. he led a chant with the crowd -- not one more, after bitterly asking how many more people have to die before there is reform. many more are mourning the victims, including those three students from the bay area. nbc bay area's kris sanchez shows us what is going done here locally to honor the students. but we begin with mark matthews. so emotional. >> reporter: it was, jessica. they heard from janet na paul tau know. but it was the father of christopher martinez, the young man gunned down at an isla vista deli, it was him, the father, that galvanized this stadium crowd. >> you will live in our hearts